तू कितने बरस का? The Confusion about Date of Birth

When the Supreme Court eventually decided that the Army Chief is actually going to be 60 this year though he will not really be 60 years old, it was a mature decision from a wise judiciary which knew how messy it would get if it went into documentation arguments.

But a senior citizen uncle of mine was disappointed. “When he is saying he was born in 1951, how can they say that he was born in 1950 because the army records say so? Army records recorded the wrong date of birth” he complained. “There are so many people who have this problem in our generation” he continued. “At that time there was no municipality. Even I have two dates of birth; one in June and another in December of the same year.”

His elder brother, also close to 70 joined the conversation. “Yes, when he was born, all that everyone remembers is that it was a day of fast and everyone was on a fast.” As he dug out the story from his memory, I could see a smile on his face. “Now which fast it was, no one knows for sure. So they got two certificates made later, one for the fast in June, another for the fast in December.”

I had heard many such funny instances earlier. Someone had told me that his father was born on a Holi, but no one bothered to note the date. So they kept celebrating his birthday on Holi every year, only to find out when he was five that his date of birth was required for school admission. So then they back calculated.

Another friend told stories of some relative’s father changing his date of birth from a date in 1946 to some date in 1947, because the government had announced some benefits for children born around independence.

Stories of date of birth being different in different documents were plentiful, not just from the old days, but even from the relatively recent past.

“My birth certificate says one thing and my school leaving certificate says something else” a friend had said during admission to college. “My mother claims the school leaving one is right.” I had thought then that he should not contest his mother’s claims on his date of birth. So his entire education recorded the school leaving certificate’s date as his date of birth.

I met him a few years later when he told his story. “It was fine for a while. But then I had to apply for a passport for which I had to submit my birth certificate and graduation certificate, both of which showed different dates.”

When I asked him what he did, he explained. “Well, they asked me to go back to the municipality in which I was born and get the date of birth corrected on my birth certificate, based on my school leaving certificate, and some affidavit from my hospital of birth.”

So now you know how things go awry. Getting an affidavit some 25 years after his birth did not sound like an encouraging or a realistic proposition. Obviously, he got a passport done with his wrong date of birth from his birth certificate.

And then his story continued. He needed an election voter’s card, which listed school leaving certificate as one of the many documents accepted.

“So they put my school leaving certificate’s date as my date of birth on the voter ID card.”

So I asked him what does he do, with two different official birth dates? “I use them based on convenience and whatever works.” He said that he had met my ‘uncle with two dates of birth’ once at a family function and had taken his advice.

“Do what I do. Thank God that there is no confusion about your name. And celebrate your birthday twice a year!”

2 Responses to तू कितने बरस का? The Confusion about Date of Birth

  1. Anonymous says:

    Raja Shivaji’s DOB is a matter of research. Government has declared his DOB as different . Hence, we have holiday on Govt’s declared DOB. Rest of the people celebrate his DOB as per history record. .

  2. Love the title of the post hahaha!!!

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